Two groups representing executive-level state staff released an action plan, encouraging state governments to improve the process of acquiring technology.
To help state governments adapt to the changing technology landscape, the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) have released a joint action plan to improve IT procurement.
The two organizations, which have historically partnered together, released recommendations to improve acquisition by removing unlimited liability clauses, introducing more flexible terms and conditions, improving negotiations, not requiring performance bonds from vendors, and leveraging enterprise IT strategies and standards, explained NASCIO Senior Policy Analyst Meredith Ward.
States need to “[recognize] that with the dramatic changes in technology in state government and the move to a more services level platform, the procurement of IT has to be modern, and it has to reflect the marketplace opportunities and the demands of state CIOs,” NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson said.
In an effort to implement some improvements quickly, the two groups are focusing on recommendations that do not require legislative changes, namely adjusting the terms and conditions and negotiation processes. The action plan specifically encourages the creation of organizational cultures, recognized roles and teams, budgeting processes, and strategy sessions that require consistent and closer communication between the chief information officers and chief procurement officers.
The purpose: “to create a shared vision for how the state CPOs and CIOs will continue to work together—not just now, but into the future—to figure out how we can make sure we are functioning as partners in terms of process, budget, terms and conditions, everything that has to do with making sure our procurements are successful and productive,” NASPO Executive Director DeLaine Bender said.
A roundtable held in 2016, where NASCIO introduced and NASPO endorsed the recommendations, was the first time state CIOs and CPOs actually met on a single issue. However, NASCIO has been working to modernize procurement since 2002, though without as strong an advocacy campaign behind it, Robinson explained.
The drive to improve IT procurement is especially important now because the rate at which technology advances continues to increase. Specifically, states, as well as corporations, are moving away from the traditional owner-operator model and toward the use of new sourcing and delivery services, like the cloud. The move to relying on services, rather than owning the hardware, changes the way the procurement process works.
The publication resulting from the 2016 roundtable provides concrete steps states, CIOs, and CPOs can take to improve their procurement processes.
“These forces of change create disruption for state budgeting, state procurement, and state audit because of a new way of doing business, which is very different from the traditional acquisition process where you’re buying assets, you’re buying things,” Robinson said. So changes must be made to the procurement process “because states need to move quickly to be able to serve citizens and to use those platforms, and procurement can be either an enabler or it can be a major barrier to that transformation.”